Public Affairs Update Header
January 20, 2014
In This Issue
Premier Clark holds course for transit referendum this fall
BC Ferries rate increase now in effect
Kitimat LNG awards engineering and construction contract
CRA changes its approach to SME tax compliance
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Premier Clark holds course for transit referendum this fall
Last week, Premier Christy Clark reiterated her commitment to holding a referendum on transit funding in the Lower Mainland this November, during the scheduled municipal elections.
Lower Mainland mayors argue, however, that the municipal elections will be compromised if the referendum is held on the same day. They contendthat municipal mayors will not have the time to persuade voters about the need for a shift in the current transit funding model because they will be preoccupied with other local issues.

Premier Clark hopes that having the referendum will improve voter turnout because citizens will want to have a voice on such a critical issue, and they will know where their local politicians stand because they will have to take a position.

In December, the Premier indicated that voters will be offered a multiple choice decision on public transit funding options. Currently, transit in the Lower Mainland is funded primarily through fares, property taxes and gas taxes. Other sources of funding that have been suggested include the proceeds from the province’s carbon tax, a regional sales tax, a vehicle levy that varies with vehicle weight and mileage, or a regional tolling system.

BC Ferries rate increase now in effect

A 3.5 per cent rate increase on BC Ferries routes announced earlier in January came into effect January 17. The increase is a fuel surcharge BC Ferries claims is necessary to cover the rising costs of diesel fuel.

According to BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan, every cent increase in the price of a litre of fuel translates into a $1.2 million increase in company expenses.

While BC Ferries has reduced its fuel consumption by 5.8 million litres since 2004, the cost of fuel in 2013 was $121 million, up from $50 million in 2004.

The rate increase applies to all BC Ferries routes except the Port Hardy-Prince Rupert route and the Prince Rupert-Haida Gwaii route.

Kitimat LNG awards engineering and construction contract

Chevron and Apache Canada Limited (Apache) awarded the consortium of JGC/Fluor a contract to lead all engineering, procurement and construction services for the proposed Kitimat LNG plant.

The scope of the project includes the completion of the existing FEED package by finalizing value-improving concepts for the proposed facility. It also includes detailed engineering and procurement services for the initial phases of the project. Under the contract, JGC would conduct services for the liquefaction process facilities and core infrastructure and Fluor would be responsible for utilities and offsite facilities.

Kitimat LNG is one of the province’s most advanced LNG proposals with a 20-year export licence approved by the National Energy Board and an environmental assessment by the BC government.

CRA changes its approach to SME tax compliance
Last week, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced a new plan to improve tax compliance among small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The plan is geared at preventing errors in businesses’ tax returns at the outset of filing, rather than identifying them through audits. The CRA has said the new approach looks to reduce red tape for businesses.

The approach includes:

  • more focus on taxpayers that the CRA considers to be at high risk of non-compliance;
  • a Liaison Officer Initiative, to provide SMEs with in-person information and education on tax compliance; and
  • a program that requires paid tax preparers to register with the CRA.

See more details on these changes in a report prepared by KMPG here.

View our profile on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook View our videos on YouTube View our photos on flickr

 This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.